Munkácsi Bernát’s speech at the Bar Mitzvah of Munkácsi Ernő, Budapest, 12th November 1909.
May you be strengthened in your noble thoughts by the memory of your glorious, pious ancestors! May the blessed memory of my beloved father and your paternal grandfather Adolf Munk, Meir Avraham – זכר צדיק לברכו– be recalled on this festive day!
He shared his life’s wisdom with his descendants in his classical Hebrew-language memoirs:
בל ידרכו רגל גאוה ובל יעדו גאון וגובה כי היו ענויים ושפלי רוח ונאמנו את אל אלהי ישראל רוחם כאשר היו אבותם ואבות אבותם עד דור הראשון...
May they avoid the path of vanity and arrogant ambition and lead a modest and humble life. Their soul should be faithfully devoted to the glorious G-d of Israel as our fathers and their ancestors have been.
And as one who wrote at the dusk of his life:
לא עמדתי כל יומי לפני השופט
I never stood in front of a judge
ולא נדדו מעולם שנותי מעיני מדאגה כי עשיתי דבר שלא כדין ולפני אנשים יבואו דברי...
I never lost a moment of sleep to worrying about illegal deeds and people condemning me for them.
And we shall remember in this hour the rest of our glorified ancestors, who – בשם טוב – in (keeping their) good reputation settled in eternal life. Among them is your great-grandfather, Bernat Munk, rabbi Dov ben David Elchonon, whose last name I bear. And who all throughout his extraordinary life struggles remained a shining example of honesty and strict religious adherence.
Your great-great-grandfather Moses Felsenburg, Rabbi Moshe ben Menachem Dov – זכר צדיק לברכו – was the renowned notary and secretary of Jewish community in Nitra in the early 19th century, who possessed deep knowledge both in religious and secular matters. You were named Moshe after him.
Your fifth ancestor is Joseph Lerner, Rabbi Joseph ben Yitzhak – זכר צדיק לברכו– chief rabbi of the Bohemian cities of Lichtenstadt, Saaz, and Elbogen. The inscription on his tomb calls him a – מאור הגולה – the Light of the Diaspora. He acquired literary fame by the books Marpe le-nefesh (Medicine for the Soul, 1791) and Oneg nefesh (Delight of the Soul, 1795).
Your sixth ancestor is Benjamin Wolf Reicheles, Rabbi of Nikolsburg and Schaff, who left us his writing Divrei ha-taanugim (The Words of Delight).
Your ninth ancestor is Rabbi Joseph Stadthagen, chief rabbi of Stadthagen, capital of Hannover. He left his highly acclaimed two-volume work Divrei zikkaron (Words of recollections, 1705) and his extremely illuminating polemic writing to us.
Your eleventh ancestor is Joseph Ashkenaz ha-Levi, who was the first rabbi and organizer of the Jewish community in the famous Lotharingian town of Metz around 1595. His life story is the focus of several discourses providing touching examples of a rock-solid character and an unshakeable loyalty to religious beliefs.
Finally, your twelfth ancestor is Rabbi Isaac ha-Levi, who lived in Worms around 1550, was the pious father and teacher of the aforementioned rabbi.
זכותם לעד תעמד לנו ותגן בעדנו
May their merits be always our advocates and protectors!
May they be your role models!